Chapter 5

THE SAN FRANCISCO & GREAT SALT LAKE RAILROAD

Page 4

A smile illuminated the shrewd banker's countenance, however; as he said in parting, “They will see it by-and-by, and when our trains are once running they will wish that they were in it from the start."

Those in Plumas County believed they were on the eve of a great "boom". If anything which is not a fully established fact is certain, certain it is that the San Francisco and Great Salt Lake railroad will be built through the very center of our county. Surveying parties are now in the field, and while we can only guess the character of the survey now in progress in the Beckwith Pass route, it looks very much like business. It would seem from present indications that the road will enter the county through Beckwith Pass, coming thence down the Middle Feather to a point near Cromberg, thence through the ridge by means of a tunnel to a point near Spring Garden Ranch, and thence down Spanish Creek and tributaries to the North Fork of Feather River, thence down the North Fork Canyon to Oroville. Of course the route is not known but the above is our guess, based on current rumors and our knowledge of the topography of the country. A railroad following the route above mapped out will surely bring the long hoped for, prayed-for "boom." Knowing, as each intelligent citizen must, the advantages which will accrue to us through the construction of the road, we should see to it that every encouragement be given the enterprise. We should be ready and willing, nay, anxious to render all possible assistance, and if necessary, band together to see that the necessary rights of way for the road be secured without the company being put to the necessity of instituting condemnation proceedings, and subjected to the delays which attend all litigation. Our merchants, laborers, tradesmen, and all our citizens who may deal with the representatives of the company now among us, should, and doubtless will, bear in mind the fact that our best and most valued friends—the men upon whom, largely, depends the "boom" are dealing with them—and that extortionate charges, resulting in temporary benefits, may discourage the promoters of the enterprise, and result ultimately in great loss to them and our county. A railroad means to us the development of our unlimited resources, and that will bring prosperity to us all. Let us not only bid the S. F. & S. L. R. R. god-speed, and indulge in "hoping it will come, but be on deck," ready to render substantial aid if necessary.—Plumas National Bulletin.

Come August and the San Francisco and Great Salt Lake Railroad was still undergoing the incubating process. The details of the plans or procedure were still being considered, and the stork subscriptions were still retained as secrets and being solicited privately. The prospectus of the road was to be issued, the subscription books opened to the public and the plans made known, all at once. The present delay it was held was mainly due to the fact that some expected large subscriptions of stock were awaiting either the return of capitalists whose names were wanted or the making up of their minds about it.

It had been the idea from the start to go before the public with a large list of subscriptions by rich citizens as a starter and it was intimated that this starter will be surprisingly large both in its total amount and in the size of some of the subscriptions by local moneyed men. The encouragement received so far has been all and more than was expected. No figures had been given out, but it had been intimated by people intimately associated with the enterprise that the private subscriptions to stock were approaching a million dollars.

The judgment of the leaders in the enterprise had differed much on some points. One of those being the minimum amount of stock subscriptions with which the company could go to the money markets with its bonds. Some said that $1,125,000 would be sufficient, and the judgment of others range upward of $5,000,000 as the least backing that would secure for the bonds any favorable consideration and a fair price. Opinion was also divided on the question of whether the through road or the local competing lines should receive first consideration. This question was decided in favor of building the through line first.

From week to week as many as three and four meetings were being held, and at each gathering some particular feature of the contemplated plan of organization was thoroughly discussed.
As each Director was under promise of strict secrecy as to the business transacted little or nothing was divulged, each one saying that for ''obvious reasons" it would not be prudent to give publicity to the plans and objects of the Directors.

The gentlemen were making an extensive canvass among the rich men of the town in an endeavor to get as many of them as possible interested in the project, and information dropped by them on these occasions was to the effect that the prospects of there being many large blocks of stock subscribed for by different individuals as extremely encouraging; so much so, in fact, that it is likely that the original plan contemplated of having the stock subscription books opened to the public would probably be abandoned and a quiet canvass among a certain number of capitalists relied upon altogether to take up all the stock that was deemed necessary. And in this connection a well defined report has it that twenty men of large means have already agreed to take amounts of stock ranging from $20,000 to $100,000. Probably out of this number as many as eight men are going to take $100,000 each, a couple of more $75,000, and possibly two may take $150,000 worth of stock each.

In their private conversation with different merchants and capitalists the directors were telling them that they had so completely mastered the problem of the construction of the new line as to be able to see the beginning and the end of the scheme in its three phases of finance—traffic, construction and operation—and when they announced their plans, the directors will be a unit in supporting and carrying them out. They hoped to be able to say that all the required stock had been placed in this Oakland, the money for the subscriptions subject to call at any time after an agreed upon and early date.

Great stress was being laid by them upon the bond phase of their financial plan, and in a general way figures that were being mentioned were to the effect that whereas the Central Pacific between San Francisco and Reno embraces 244 miles, the new project may embrace 260 miles, which could be constructed and equipped for probably $12,000,000, or at about $46,160 per mile. Although they did not represent these figures as being correct and definitely fixed, they used them to give some idea of what the mileage and financial outlay would be between Oakland and a point near or within twenty or thirty miles of the eastern state line of California, and to emphasize the point that the bonded indebtedness would represent the actual cost of building and equipping the road, so that, supposing the above-named amount was the correct cost between the points mentioned, the annual interest of 6 per cent, or $720,000, would be the only fixed charge.

The League of Progress had addressed a letter to Alvinza Hayward and his associates in the San Francisco and Salt Lake enterprise. In it the league stated that the opening to subscription of the stock books of the railroad is an opportunity to show to the promoters and the public the position of the league toward this matter, of such paramount importance to the people of this city and State. The letter after referring to the incorporators' work as the first practical step toward the breaking of the transcontinental freight monopoly proceeds:
We are confident that this auspicious reawakening of the independent spirit of pioneer days, and the establishment of the new connection with the outside world will eventually restore to us our commerce by sea and land, bring rapidly to us the population which should have been ours twenty years ago, make opportunity for the employment of millions of dollars of idle capital, give to our merchants' the interior and local trade which naturally should be tributary to this metropolis, and ultimately lead to the reestablishment of a condition of general prosperity for the people of our city and State.

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